"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Thursday 28 February 2013

The indefinite Article 8


It is now more than sixty years since the United Kingdom became one of the first parties to the European Convention on Human Rights. Whether or not we were alive in 1950, we may need to be reminded of the huge changes that have taken place since then, especially in the way that unpopular or disadvantaged minorities are dealt with by criminal justice, civil justice, and society generally.

For a start we then had capital punishment: a mandatory death sentence, subject only to the executive's prerogative of mercy, for murder (including killing brought in under the felony-murder rule). Suicide and attempted suicide were criminal offences. Abortion was illegal in all circumstances, subject only to a doubtful defence of necessity on which only a very courageous doctor would risk his reputation and his liberty.

Male homosexual activity was a criminal offence, even when it took place in private between consenting adults. Even if they avoided prosecution, same-sex couples received none of the housing, social security or fiscal advantages afforded to married couples. Transsexuals received no sympathy from the law, as can be seen from a remarkably unsympathetic judgment given in 1970, which makes uncomfortable reading today [2] .

Discrimination in employment and housing was widespread. It was controlled neither by legislation nor (with honourable exceptions) by public opinion. It took place against women, gays, jews, roman catholics and foreigners of all sorts. Divorce law was fault-based and beset by arcane pitfalls – collusion, connivance and conduct conducing – to ensure that it was not too easy to get out of an unhappy marriage. Theatrical productions were subjected to censorship by an unelected official called the Lord Chamberlain, who objected to even moderate sexual explicitness (whatever its dramatic merit) and to less than obsequious references to the royal family. The publishers of the Penguin edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover were prosecuted for obscenity, and prosecuting counsel invited the jury to consider whether it was a book that they would wish their wives or servants to read. It was before the epoch referred to in Philip Larkin's much-quoted words:

"Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
. . .
Between the end of the 'Chatterley' ban
And the Beatles' first LP."

I could go on. But that is enough to give some flavour of the bleakness, narrow-mindedness and repression of Britain at the time when the government signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights... 


https://twitter.com/ZrileB tweets :
Brits quietly stripped of citizenship… then killed by drones. Sinister!

From the article :

The Government has secretly ramped up a controversial programme that strips people of their British citizenship on national security grounds – with two of the men subsequently killed by American drone attacks.

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for The Independent has established that since 2010, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revoked the passports of 16 individuals, many of whom are alleged to have had links to militant or terrorist groups.


This is a follow up to this case - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-20157167 (
Mahdi Hashi has British citizenship revoked for 'extremism' )

The implications are that even someone 'British born and bred' can have their citizenship revoked. Not just migrants.

Sheffield steps up protest against deportation of anti-rape activist.

Rally hears detailed evidence of Odette Sefuko's nationality and local MP calls for a stay of deportation planned in four days' time.


Sheffield campaigners staged an emergency protest yesterday to raise awareness of the plight of Odette Sefuko, an asylum seeker who fears she will be in great danger if deported to Uganda on Monday 4 March, as reported in the Guardian Northerner on Tuesday.

Supporters voiced their concerns for Sefuko, who is currently being detained at Yarl's Wood detention centre, after her arrest on Wednesday 13 February. They protested against the UK Border Agency's decision to deport Sefuko to Uganda despite UN expert evidence that she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here's a film of the rally.



https://twitter.com/19pst tweets :
Powerful: RT https://twitter.com/LRB : 'Border Vigils: Keeping Migrants Out of the Rich World' by Jeremy Harding


Japanese expats in UK sell brooches to aid Tohoku recovery.



Etna's eruption, from space.



The Economist's Syria cover: A more optimistic version.

NOT everyone agreed with our Syria cover last week. It illustrated the gradual destruction of the country that is the result of the war between President Bashar Assad and the rebels trying to oust him. One aspect of the country that has not been destroyed is the creativity. On February 25th Wissam al-Jazairy, a young Syrian graphic designer took the cover to task. His extended design showing the reconstruction of the country when the war ends went viral.


Wednesday 27 February 2013

Steve & Galina

“They don’t see people behind the figures and so they turn our lives into hell..”

Steve is a British citizen and 57 years old.

In March 2010, he married Galina, a Russian and 50 years old. Together, they live in Bristol.

Galina arrived in the UK as the bride of a British citizen and had a residence permit for two years, as is the norm for spouses. They followed the rules and ensured UKBA was aware of the purpose of Galina’s journey here all those years ago.

During this time, Steve and Galina lived happily. They lived together, rescued a dog from the pound, and paid their taxes. They weren’t high-earners. But they earned enough for themselves to not need to ask for any help from the state. They were happy.

At the end of the residence permit, Galina went to apply for a continuation of her residence. But the rules had changed and Steve and Galina came to face the nightmare which is the UKBA.

The rules were now such that they required a Cambridge certificate. Galina is not a young girl any
more..while she has been learning English (and well enough to send in this story to BritCits), it takes her longer to pick up things. Her memory isn’t what it once was, her life isn’t as carefree and she is just older.

The UKBA refused the extension of Galina’s visa and have made the decision to force her to leave the UK despite her ties to this country. Only because she does not have a Cambridge certificate in the English language. Galina speaks fluent Spanish. However, they feel that just because Steve is British, they are being discriminated against. They feel it’s unfair.

Indeed, it’s clear that this evident of yet further incompetency from the UKBA as Steve and Galina fall under the pre-9th July rules..however UKBA insists on applying the new rules to them, even though they submitted their applicant a month before the new rules came into play.

(To quote directly from the Statement of Intent prior to 9th July 2012 http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/news/soi-fam-mig.pdf
Page 34 - 'Transitional arrangements' :
A fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, same sex partner, child or adult dependant with leave to enter or remain in the UK on the family route granted before 9 July 2012 will remain subject to the rules in force prior to that date. Likewise, those with leave granted before 9 July 2012 as a partner of a migrant with leave under the Points Based System, or as an adult dependant or post-flight family member of a refugee or person granted humanitarian protection in the UK, will also remain subject to the rules in force prior to that date. 

Clearly Steve and Galina should be covered under the old rules. This isn't the first time we've heard of this happening :
http://thailand-uk.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-14991.html )

There is no answer to give to Steve and Galina, as to why after three years of marriage they are now being told there are yet further hurdles to jump over, else their marriage will be considered worthless by the government.

The UKBA has generously offered that for them to not breakup their marriage, Steve could leave the UK too. However, there is no understanding for the fact that Steve and Galina look after Steve’s 90 year old mother. If Steve were to do as the government wants and leave his home, who will look after this 90 year old British woman?
Odds and ends

https://twitter.com/emmabmoussa tweets :
This whole UKBA mess has caused me so many problems but its gotta be worth it to keep my little family together

Emma and Driss :


Worrying report from Greece.



UK Border Agency defies MPs over deportation 'reserves'.


Extra detainees still being held at airports before charter flights, a year after MPs and prison inspector demanded end to practice.

Via http://ncadc.org.uk/


BBC criticised for treating immigration campaign group as 'neutral analysts'.

Cross-party group says BBC allows views of Migration Watch to go unchallenged despite its 'clearly defined agenda'.



https://twitter.com/Paul_Dillane tweets :
Is the internet access of immigration detainees being restricted?
FOI request - http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/blocked_access_to_websites_at_im


https://twitter.com/ncadc tweets :
Great piece of Odette Sefuko's campaign in Guardian Northerner blog by https://twitter.com/Marishka_VS

Friends fight bid to deport Sheffield volunteer :

Support page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/odettesefuko/

https://twitter.com/19pst tweets :
Words do matter: https://twitter.com/OanaRomocea a human 'being of less desirable origin', on semantics of migration http://huff.to/13k0DaY


Women protesters call for fall of Saudi interior minister.


Tuesday 26 February 2013

Lucy and Andres


“England is my home and I always thought I’d be welcome here regardless of who I chose to marry ..”

Lucy is a British citizen. She is a student in her final year at university in Newcastle, studying Spanish and Geography. She spent a year abroad in Colombia, improving her Spanish and working for an NGO - an incredibly noble pursuit.

She is working hard to achieve great things. She is ambitious and on the path to success with international work experience under her belt even before she has completed her degree. She is exactly the kind of citizen we should be bending over backwards to retain her valuable skills and experience here, in the UK, to contribute to the British economy and Britain's future.

Instead, Lucy is aware that one day she may need to come to terms with the fact that she has to leave her home, only because she is in love with Andres, a man from Colombia.

They have been together for two years, lived together for 8 months in Colombia and Lucy feels secure with him. They just ‘click’. When Lucy was in Colombia in Christmas 2012, Andres asked her to marry him. Lucy said no.

She said no, not because she doesn’t want to get married. But because she can’t knowingly go into a marriage knowing they may not be able to live together. So they have settled on a Wills-and-Kate kind of arrangement, where they are engaged to be engaged.

Lucy wants to get married in her hometown. With her friends and family able to celebrate her marriage. She doesn’t want an uncertain engagement – one which instead of being used to plan a wedding, is used to compulsively check the latest on the UKBA rules.

An incredible amount of responsibility shown by ones so young. And an incredible shame, that young love is now being tainted by UKBA instead of being left to blossom on its own.

Lucy is now intent on completing her degree so that she can begin her career here. Andres is working to improve his English (as Lucy speaks fluent Spanish, they haven’t actually needed to communicate in English previously) with Lucy giving him lessons over Skype several times a week.

Lucy is convinced that within 6 months of being fully immersed in British life, Andres’s English language skills would be impeccable. He is a fast learner. However, he is being denied this opportunity, even as a tourist, with UKBA having refused his application to visit.

Lucy is however lucky, that on graduation she would likely be offered a position paying over £18,600..but that’s still over a year away, and even then, Andres may not pass the English language test, having not had opportunity to spend time in an English speaking country.

Lucy is also keen to study further, and pursue a Master’s degree. However, this option has been snatched from her by the British government, because she fell in love with a foreigner. Because she isn’t rich. Lucy is aware that living apart from her future husband for an indeterminable amount of time isn’t feasible, and therefore the UK is not going to be a likely option for her future. However she is dreading the day when she has to come to terms with that. England is her home and she always thought she’d be able to live in her home, regardless of who she married.

Indeed, it appears that after 4 years of study at a British university, the most valuable qualification this British citizen may have is a £45 Teach-English-as-a-Foreign-Language course.

Today's links

Burnley dad wins battle to stop children from being deported to South Africa.


A DAD has won the battle to stop his two young children from being deported from Burnley to a South African children’s home.

Last week the Lancashire Telegraph reported the plight of Seth Tutt, and his five-year-old sister Leigh, who were brought here by their father Justin Tutt, 29, after the sudden death of their mother.

The children had been facing the prospect of deportation in four weeks when their holiday visa runs out, but Mr Tutt has now been told by the UK Border Agency that they can stay on five-year settlement visas, and after that period they can apply for permanent passports.

Via https://twitter.com/ncadc


Anti-rape campaigner in Sheffield fears death if deported.


Odette Sefuko, an asylum seeker from Sheffield, fears that she could face imprisonment, rape and death if she is deported to Uganda as currently planned on Monday of next week.

Sefuko, who is currently being detained at Yarls Wood Detention Centre , was arrested by the UK Border Agency on Wednesday 13 February. Campaigners say that the Home Office are seeking to deport Sefuko to Uganda despite evidence from UN experts that she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo.





https://twitter.com/britcits tweets :
The semantics of migration..scare tactics from #UKBA and impact on our daily lives

My view is that the vast majority of reasonable people who desire a sensible balance on migration need to clearly tell politicians not to give into the extremes. Migration can be the subject of reasoned debate without all the vitriol. Clear and reasonable policies can be adopted. In this regard, the media has a special responsibility to serve the public interest. It should avoid anecdotal evidence which then becomes the norm in the public conscience and instead publish research-based evidence. Unfortunately, both the government's reluctance to provide coherent immigration policy and the media's discriminatory portrayal of migrants inhibit our ability to have a healthy debate on migration, to the detriment of my adopted country which I have come to love as much as my homeland.


https://twitter.com/19pst tweets :
Stay vigilant. 70 years ago today: the first transport of Roma and Sinti Gypsies reaches Auschwitz


https://twitter.com/ecre tweets :
Detained migrants in Greece claim violent attack by police to end their hunger strike left many with broken limbs

https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK tweets :
Seeking asylum from 'safe' countries. One woman's story of rape and fear from govt forces


https://twitter.com/ncadc tweets :
Immigration and asylum news round up -


Obama's immigrants: The best, the brightest and the borders.



Fear stalks South Sudan, the world's newest country.



Syria: 'Lens of a young Homsi', photos of a city under siege.



Police torture continues in Egypt.




Scores of families have fought back against a controversial campaign in China's central Henan province to raze millions of graves for farmland and resurrected their ancestors’ resting places during the Lunar New Year.

In the latest pushback against the government's plans to free up land, local residents throughout the province restored about half of the dug-up graves, or about one million [zh], throughout February 2013, according to a local news report.



As Japan's star fades, many struggle for hope.


As Japan's economic growth continues to shrink each year, the Japanese, more and more disconnected from their families and friends thanks to grueling works days and the Internet's erosion of personal relationships, are finding it difficult to put on a happy face.


Pollution is steering China towards a cancer crisis.


China's top Internet entrepreneur Ma Yun has warned that no amount of money can protect the rich from China's cancer-causing pollution. His comments resonated with web users, many of whom are already alarmed by the country's toxic combination of air and water contamination and food safety issues.


Defending capital punishment in Japan.



Human rights organization Amnesty International called for the death penalty to be abolished in Japan and criticized the Japanese Ministry of Justice for hanging three inmates. Beth at JapanCrush takes a look at reactions from netizens who are in favor of capital punishment in the country.


General Luo Yuan's battle on Weibo.



High-ranking Chinese military officer Luo Yuan opened a personal Weibo account on Feb 21. Since then, his pro-war comments on how to manage China's relationship with Japan and the recent nuclear test in North Korea have triggered sharp criticism from netizens.


Macedonian anti-fascists protest against harassment.


Vanco Dzambaski published a photo gallery from the gathering that took place on February 16 in the center of Skopje, commemorating the February Campaign of 1944, when Macedonian partisans marched through the snowy mountains to deal a decisive blow to the fascist forces in Macedonia and Northern Greece.


God exists and He serves the Kremlin.


Though the Pussy Riot trial is over, the culture war it launched in Russia drags on unabated.


Monday 25 February 2013


“I am desperate to return home to spend time with my parents in their final years..as they are both fighting cancer…but I can’t leave my wife! ”

Sean is a British citizen who for the past ten years has worked in South East Asia. Sean's wife is from that region and together, they have a three year old son, also British. Sean’s parents, also British, live in the UK.

Both of Sean's parents are battling cancer and Sean is keen to spend time with his parents in their last few years and ensure his son gets to spend that incredibly precious time with the grandparents that for many of us, has been invaluable in our own lives.

However, because of this government, Sean and his son are now facing the prospect of never being able to return here - to their home, their family and the lives they are entitled to.

Sean’s parents are devastated at the prospect of never seeing Sean or their beloved grandson again.

They are depressed, habitually in tears and at a time when cancer is attacking them, so is this government.

Sean is horrified that his little boy will never experience a family Christmas or the warmth and love of his grandparents.

This government has deemed that in order for Sean, as a British citizen to return to the UK he must abandon his wife because he just doesn’t make an arbitrary amount of £18,600 in the developing country he is living in – an amount he does not need to live on there.

This government has deemed that for Sean’s son to be able to live in his home and get to know his
grandparents, he must either live with his mum in Asia or his dad in the UK.

This government is encouraging the breakup of a marriage and family, forcing British citizens into exile, and forcing elderly British citizens in a time of need, to battle debilitating diseases alone.

What’s even more unbelievable is that these new rules only affect British citizens with non-EU spouses. Other EU citizens have the freedom to live in Sean’s home country with their non-EU spouses..but because Sean is British he has additional hurdles to jump over.

We have no answer for Sean when he asked us to explain to him why he, as British citizen, and his son, also a British citizen, are forced to live in exile. The rights of Sean’s non-European spouse are not the issue here. The issue is around the rights we afford British citizens and families, and the heartbreak this government deems it justified to wreak on its own people.

When did we become a society where an elderly British couple battling cancer are forced to do it without their British son to support them?

Perhaps the government can tell us why.


A quote from Ian Dunt, posting at http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2013/01/18/comment-how-the-government-breaks-up-british-families , springs to mind :

Our constant obsession with immigration is making this a hard, mean place; a place that splits up families so it can satisfy David Cameron's absent-minded promise of 'tens-of-thousands' coming in a year.

Today's links

Deported to die appeal fight.


Friends and supporters of a severely ill Leeds widow who faces being ‘deported to die’ are making a last-ditch appeal to the Home Office to abandon what they have termed its “relentless persecution” of her.

As reported previously in the YEP, Nigerian-born kidney-transplant patient Roseline Akhalu has been fighting a five-year battle to remain in the UK.

The 49-year old’s initial joy at an immigration tribunal’s decision to uphold her recent appeal turned to despair when it emerged the Home Secretary intended to challenge the judge’s decision.

Now her lawyers have learned that the Home Office has indeed won official permission to appeal against the ruling of the immigration judge last November.

The trials of Roseline Akhalu :


Via Roseline's campaign page :


New report and campaign launch: Dignity in pregnancy.


This joint Refugee Council and Maternity Action report looks at the experiences of pregnant women in the asylum system, based on interviews with asylum seeking women and midwives responsible for their care.

The findings show that the UK Border Agency's 'dispersal' policies are putting the health of pregnant women and their babies at risk. By moving them to acommodation around the county, women are uprooted from essential healthcare and their support networks, leaving them isolated and vulnerable.


UKBA's dispersal policy 'puts pregnant asylum seekers at risk' says report.




The Refugee Council's campaign for dignity in pregnancy.




When maternity doesn't matter: how the UK is failing vulnerable pregnant women.



National insurance, immigration caps and burdensome regulation are the reasons why the UK economy is stagnating, business leaders said today.



Leeds' hosts offer hot food, beds and a warm welcome to asylum-seekers.


Janice Gwilliam continues her monthly posts on volunteering in the north, with news of overnight placements in the homes of generous Yorkshire families. But there's mud on them thar moors.


Status update via 'I Love Immigrants' ( https://www.facebook.com/ILoveImmigrants ) :

https://www.facebook.com/ILoveImmigrants/posts/554382427918720 -
Romans (55BC), Angles, Saxons and Jutes (4th Century), Vikings (8th Century), Normans (11th Century), Romani (16th Century), Huguenots (17th Century), Africans (18th Century), Irish (19th Century), Germans, Russian and Poles (20th Century), Caribbeans, Indians, Africans and Hong Kong Chinese (20th Century), Poles (21st Century). You'd think we'd have got over it by now.


Stratford-upon-Avon African skeleton was Roman soldier.



Meeting Carlos Saavedra, of the United We Dream movement last week, and then catching the musical production 'Glasgow Girls' at the Theatre Royale last week was bound to spark off thoughts on what happens when young people get involved in the issue of the rights of migrants. Here are a bunch of reasons why we should feel pretty hopeful as to what the potential is...



Greece: "A promise from the army has been obtained to not intervene against a civil uprising".



Greeks ask themselves: Who's a Greek?


When it comes to immigration, Greece faces a dilemma: The country needs new, young people because like the rest of Europe, it faces a falling birth rate and an aging population.

Yet it's also struggling with a backlash against immigrants, especially those from Africa and South Asia. Although Greece has become the main entry point into the European Union for undocumented migrants, the country of 11 million is also home to roughly 1 million immigrants who reside here legally and have started families here. Their Greek-born children want to become citizens.

So Greece is wrestling with a fundamental question: Who's a Greek?


https://twitter.com/LondonMigrants tweets :
Top 5 stories of the week 24/2/13


https://twitter.com/FullFact tweets :
Are people in wealthy nations more likely to be depressed than those in poorer countries?


Sunday 24 February 2013


https://twitter.com/SalCardiff says : The petition has over 2000 signatures now! :)

Please do consider signing it! This is why :

And here are (at present) 57 more reasons - out of thousands :


Civil society and the Internet : Chinese state media shares powerful map of 'cancer villages' creeping inland -
Error in 'Life in UK' book??

The image below is from page 18 of the new 'Life in the UK' book :

 The caption reads 'An Anglo-Saxon helmet found at Sutton Hoo - currently at the British Museum'.

The text begins: 'The Anglo-Saxons were not Christians when they first came to Britain but, during this period, missionaries came to Britain to preach about Christianity...'

Au contraire. The famous Sutton Hoo helmet is this :

(Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sutton_hoo_helmet_room_1_no_flashbrightness_ajusted.JPG - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton_Hoo ).

It's not the same helmet as the one in the 'Life in the UK' book - and in all my googling, I haven't come across a helmet found at Sutton Hoo which looks like the helmet in the 'Life in the UK' book.

For starters, the Sutton Hoo helmet has a full face mask; the 'Life in the UK' book's helmet doesn't.

I believe that the helmet in the 'Life in the UK' image is actually a Vendel helmet - maybe even this helmet :
(Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Helmet_from_a_7th_century_boat_grave,_Vendel_era.jpg )

In fact, the image of the Vendel helmet above is linked to from the Wikipedia page on Sutton Hoo ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton_Hoo ) with the caption 'Helmet from the 7th century ship burial at Vendel'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vendel is a location in Sweden which is also the site of ship burials and the graves of medieval kings who shared a similar culture to the early English - but it's not Sutton Hoo, and while the famous Sutton Hoo helmet does bear some resemblance to the Vendel helmet, they aren't the same object.

Surely the authors of the 'Life in the UK' book haven't just copied and pasted an image from Wikipedia (or somewhere) without understanding the underlying context or history? Because that would be wrong.

If of course the helmet in the 'Life in the UK' book does come from Sutton Hoo (another helmet??) - I'd like to see evidence of this, and am willing to be corrected. But on the face of it it's not the same object. 


"The new book rightly focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British," Harper said. "Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life."

Among these British values are 1/ fair play 2/ accuracy and integrity and 3/ a sense of history.

If indeed the authors of the book have posted the wrong image (the Vendel helmet, while lovely and demonstrating a high level of craftsmanship, isn't the same as the Sutton Hoo helmet), then that's just not cricket.

The Sutton Hoo helmet is remarkable for its sheer attention to detail. From http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pe_mla/h/helmet_from_sutton_hoo.aspx :
The helmet has panels decorated with interlacing Style II animal ornament and heroic scenes, motifs that were common in the Germanic world at this time. One scene shows two warriors, wearing horned helmets, holding short swords and down-turned spears. The other shows a mounted warrior trampling a fallen enemy, who in turn is stabbing the horse, a theme handed down from the Roman Empire.

Yes. Attention to detail. More attention to detail please!

Sutton Hoo is a special part of English history - sacred even. It's just not on to get something so core to the English identity, wrong.

I should also add that the apparent error wasn't spotted by me. It was spotted by someone I know who is
1/ Currently studying for the 'Life in the UK' test
2/ From a radically different culture (Japan) and...
3/ Whose native language isn't English.

Fair play.


Related post : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/hidden-lives-life-in-uk-comedy-gold.html

Resources for those considering the EU route to family unity

For those considering the 'Surinder Singh' route - or 'European' route to family unity, following EU rules on freedom of movement to be with their loved ones (an option which exists for British citizens because of the European rules on free movement) - people are starting to collate links on how to do this in practice, using http://www.delicious.com . Introducing our new co-conspirators :



There is also a Facebook group devoted to this method - invitations by email.

Via https://twitter.com/RozziP and https://twitter.com/zarozania .

Related posts :


Update 24/Feb/2012 : The provenance of Surinder Singh - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/european-ruling-challenges-uk-immigration-law-1531867.html

(8/July/1992) A RULING by the European Community's highest court yesterday has questioned the legality of a key principle of British immigration law.

It has undermined the 'primary purpose rule' enshrined 10 years ago in the Immigration Act, which lays down that when foreigners married to British citizens come to live in this country, they must prove that the marriage's primary purpose was not just to win the right of residence.

This controversial rule is much stricter than the equivalent European Community principle, which allows all EC citizens to bring spouse and children with them when they move to another EC country, no matter what the primary purpose of the marriage.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Calynn's Story


''I thought I knew about immigration policy. I read about it, I wrote about it. I even studied it. I went to lectures, where people with multiple degrees presented complex economic models and talked at length about border security, and visas, and ‘managing migration’.

''But in late January, for the first time, I felt it.

''I felt it as I boarded a plane and crossed an ocean, and left my husband some 3,000 miles behind, with no precise knowledge of when I would see him again. That day, I realized I still had a lot to learn about immigration policy.

''Sometimes when attempting to study migration academically or ‘scientifically’, we can lose sight of the fact that migration is fundamentally a human experience, rich in personal meaning for the individuals who undertake it. In this way, migration reads much differently in person than it does on paper. In practice, migration means excitement and new beginnings. It means hoping for more, for better, or even just for something different. Migrations are built on dreams.

''Unfortunately, dreams can be a shaky foundation. It’s when you wake from those dreams that you find the other side of migration – the rootlessness, the uncertainty; you find rupture and loss. You discover that no matter which end you look at it from, migration always means saying goodbye to someone. Sometimes, those goodbyes are forced, the result of policy rather than choice... ''

Calynn's story


The author also wrote this piece :

Love knows no borders: immigration clampdown affects young couples.


If you’re under thirty and feeling pessimistic lately, you’re not alone. As if rising tuition fees, soaring unemployment and low wages were not enough, changes to immigration and settlement rules threaten many young families' right to be together. Coupled with the recent changes to visa rules for international students, the Government is creating an increasingly hostile environment for all young migrants and making it next to impossible for young couples to settle in the UK...

This is a fantastic piece which was produced just as the new rules came out last year.

It affected me (as someone new to the subject ) at the time and influenced my own direction and thinking. Good luck Calynn!

Thursday 21 February 2013

Home Secretary, please call off the attack on kidney patient Roseline Akhalu


In Parliament last week Greg Mulholland, the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North, challenged the Home Secretary over her relentless persecution of Roseline Akhalu, the kidney-transplant patient who, nobody disputes, will die horribly if she is returned to Nigeria. The latest news is bleak indeed. On 6 February Roseline’s lawyers learned that the Home Office had won permission to appeal against the ruling of an immigration judge late last year allowing Roseline Akhalu leave to remain in the UK.

The trials of Roseline Akhalu :

Roseline's support group on Facebook :

Petition to save Roseline :

 According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresa_May is an Anglican and attends church every Sunday. Her attitude is more reminiscent of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontius_Pilate .

China: Bloggers 'forced to drink tea' with police.


A person can be summoned for a tea talk for different reasons. Online opinion leaders, people who write about or host online platforms for political dissent, those who share sensitive information from unofficial channels, and signatories of online petitions are all frequently “forced to drink tea” with police. Opinion leaders are invited for tea on a regular basis, so that police may make sure that they are behaving “responsibly” in their role as opinion leaders...


https://twitter.com/MigRightsScot tweets :
#Britain cannot be open for business and closed to foreigners. m.ft.com/cms/s/0/63562e32-7b5e-11e2-8eed-00144feabdc0.html


(via Facebook) https://delicious.com/sandra.saleh.33 is starting to collate links related to EU free movement. Keeping an eye out!


Wednesday 20 February 2013

Larissa & Nicolas

“It’s a shame the UK government is blind to common sense and so averse to doing the right thing, in the interest of massaging some numbers.”

Larissa is a British citizen, born and raised in London. She has lived and worked in Argentina with her fiancé, Nicolas. They intend to get married in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 9th, and then "fight" their way into the UK.

They are facing a fight because of both, the salary rule and the English requirement – requirements which have been brought in because of, the government says, the basis of ensuring the foreign spouse is not a burden on UK taxpayers and that s/he can integrate well into the community here.

Nicolas is the son of an English teacher – he has been learning English since he was a baby, studied it in a private institute for over six years and received his own ‘Elementary English Teacher’ certificate, allowing him to teach Argentinean school students English as a foreign language. Between them, they earn more han £25,000 a year.

Yet the rules are such that they are disqualified, despite earning enough to NOT be a burden on the taxpayer and Nicolas being fluent in English.

Nicolas doesn’t have an issue with doing the test. He will pass it. The issue is that the test has to be completed in very specific locations, with no thought to the time, expense and location issues it raises for the couple.

To earn over £18,600 by herself, Larissa will have to get another job, to supplement her £14,000 income. Not easy at the best of times, but especially in this economy – and she has been trying. And even when she is successful in obtaining this job, they will have to wait six months before they can even apply to be together. And then, going by statistics obtained from UKBA, up to another six months before the visa would be granted. So the couple faces 12 months apart, even after Larissa obtains the elusive £18,600 job.

This despite the fact that their joint income is OVER £25,000.

Larissa has been told, "Well, you're marrying someone from abroad, go start your life abroad then".

The issue is Nicolas speaks English, Larissa doesn't speak Spanish.

Larissa is really close to her family in London (as is Nicolas), while Nicolas’s family is scattered around the globe.

Nicolas can take his job with him, it doesn't matter where he is. Larissa’s job is less mobile.

So for many valid reasons, it is just not the same for this young couple to start their family in
Argentina. It’s a shame the UK government is blind to common sense and so averse to doing the right thing.


 Editor's note: Regarding the issue of timescales. Relevant here are the news stories from late January 2013 of the UKBA backlogs in dealing with delays to partner and family visas :
'Border agency backlog keeps Britons and their foreign spouses in limbo' : http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/08/immigration-marriage
'UKBA backlog: Inspectors find thousands of new cases : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21170495

When inspectors visited a UKBA office in Sheffield they found a further backlog of 2,100 "complex" temporary migration cases. These included 180 marriage entry or settlement applications which had not received an initial decision. Some dated back to 2003.
One inspector said the unresolved applications had been effectively "dumped" on the Sheffield team after being transferred in a box from the UKBA's Croydon offices. Officials have since dealt with these cases.  

We posted on this issue on 24th January 2013 : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/a-good-day.html

It's worth reading the stories and following the links. This situation - not just the unfairness of the rules but the poor implementation of the rules - causes heartbreak and uncertainty for many people. Several contributors to the BritCits pack contributed to the linked news stories. See also our very special 'bureaucracy' tag : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/bureaucracy

The Independent Chief Inspector on Twitter : https://twitter.com/ICIBIVine
Today's links

Man, 84, dies at immigration detention centre.


An 84-year-old Canadian man has died after becoming ill at an immigration removal centre near Heathrow airport. Alois Dvorzac was said to be "extremely distressed" before being rushed to hospital on 10 February.

https://twitter.com/UNHCRUK tweets :
Man, 84, dies at #immigration #detention centre http://gu.com/p/3ev4x/tw 

https://twitter.com/jcwinews tweets :
How many more must die?


Moaning against immigration will damage trade, says Gavin Barwell MP.


David Cameron's trade mission to India will fail unless ministers stop talking about immigration as a problem, a government aide has warned.

The number of Indian-funded investment projects in Britain fell from 97 in 2011 to 81 in 2012, Mr Barwell said, adding that the immigration controls of the UK Border Agency were “expensive”, bureaucratic and “intimidatory”.

https://twitter.com/GavinBarwellMP tweets :
Migration Matters launched to re-balance the debate on immigration in this country:

Barbara, Navnit and I come from different political traditions. We’re not necessarily going to agree on the detail of policy. But we are united in wanting to see a nuanced debate that recognises the benefits of immigration as well as addressing the problems.

https://twitter.com/UKBAMonitor on Twitter is worth monitoring!

Could a new phonetic alphabet promote world peace?


You are in Vietnam and want a bowl of soup. You ask a local where you can get "pho". After momentary confusion you are handed a book.

It's the curse of phonetics. Pho was correct. But you failed to emphasise the vowel and so articulated in Vietnamese "copy" (of a book).
(That's because it's pronounced 'fur').

This page on constructed alphabets is great (and less anglocentric than the one linked above; basically there are issues with tones, clicks, and other sounds which should really have their own characters - Japanese r, Arabic k-sounds, even the Greek theta doesn't seem to have its own character in the script referenced in the BBC article). :

https://twitter.com/jcwinews tweets :
The Daily Express: Inflaming A2 Fears

https://twitter.com/FullFact tweets :
Migration Watch has looked into incentives for Bulgarians & Romanians moving to the UK. So have we:

Why have the white British left London?


The movement of the white British is often characterised as white flight - the indigenous population forced out of their neighbourhoods by foreign migrants. That may be part of the story, but I think the evidence suggests it is also about working class aspiration and economic success.


Carlos Saavedra: keeping the dream alive for undocumented people in the US.


The Latino vote won Barack Obama a second term in office. Activist Carlos Saavedra helped put the plight of undocumented people on the agenda. Now he's touring the UK, hoping to inspire young people.

https://twitter.com/nandosigona tweets :
Great story @guardian on keeping the #DREAM alive for #undoc people in the US http://gu.com/p/3dqqt  but why no reference to UK young undoc?

'Ask Angy' humanises the experience of undocumented migrants.


Angy Rivera shares her immigration story with the world in hopes of humanizing this complex experience, particularly in the United States. Two years ago she publicly announced that "she did not fear being undocumented," and since then she writes a column entitled Ask Angy, in which she responds to questions, doubts, and comments.

Her YouTube channel :

Greece asylum: Journey through a broken system.


When it comes to seeking asylum, Greece is the gateway to Europe. But the Greek asylum system is a mess. Paul Mason spoke to one man who has spent more than a year on the road - in squats, living rough and for a time in detention - about the experience of trying to claim asylum on Europe's frontier.


16 year old unlawfully detained.


Via http://www.freemovement.org.uk/


Bulgarian police attack protesters.


Australian senator deported from Malaysia.

City living 'makes it harder to concentrate'.

Another good piece on World Flag Ant Farm.


The symbolic movement of the ants across sandy borders is a statement on national identity and the division of cultures across the world. As the ants work to transport food and sand through the system, the sands evolve over time and the divided system breaks down into an ambiguous blend of flags. Yanagi personally identifies with the project and he says, "My works are borders I have had to cross or barriers I have confronted in trying to define myself as a Japanese.”

And another... with an homage to Jasper Johns :


More : http://britcits.blogspot.com/2013/02/world-flag-ant-farm-world-flag-ant-farm.html

Interesting piece on the state of Welsh language blogging.


Like blogging, the Welsh language used to enjoy the run of the place [ed. note: as opposed to Facebook, Twitter, ect.). The precursor to modern Welsh was once spoken all over the British Isles. Today it is spoken by roughly 20% of the population of Wales, or about 600,000 people, and we wait with bated breath for the results of the next census to see whether that number has gone up or down. All adult Welsh speakers in Wales can also speak English.

Welsh, when it had the run of the place :

https://twitter.com/NUSISCampaign tweets :
The UKBA has still not responded to our FOI on Christmas Delays despite the fact that 28 days have passed
https://twitter.com/APPGMigration  https://twitter.com/CommonsHomeAffs

https://twitter.com/APPGMigration tweets :
Delighted to announce 4th March Oral Evidence Session will hear from
https://twitter.com/anita_hurrell Dr Helena Wray Dr Vivienne Nathanson & https://twitter.com/duncanhames

Comment: UK press bashes Romania again. ‘If times are tough, forget EU rights!’

https://twitter.com/nandosigona tweets :
Excellent piece in FT by @annafifield on how immigration law fallout hits Alabama economy


https://twitter.com/britishfuture tweets :
Of 1/3 of Londoners born abroad, like Boris, many of them have become British http://bit.ly/XoV9V7


https://twitter.com/BritishCouncil tweets :
'More international students are now studying for UK qualifications outside of the UK than those in the UK.' – http://bit.ly/XkN1YV


https://twitter.com/britishfuture tweets :
Afghan refugee who has won a scholarship to Eton, also got a trial for #HullKR, story in Sun today, http://bit.ly/VJazbZ

https://twitter.com/DetentionAction tweets :
Vast majority of young Afghan refugees like Rohid are in immigration detention + facing deportation http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4804386/Afghan-refugee-wins-scholarship-to-David-Camerons-school-Eton-College.html

https://twitter.com/IngyIngram tweets :
Celebrating Somalis in London's East End - March events inc. photography, discussion, oral history, film, genealogy http://www.ideastore.co.uk/en/articles/somali_east_end_march_2013


The Coordinating Council of the Russian Opposition has been a fascinating eDemocracy experiment, conducted in the shadow of Russia's competitive authoritarian status quo. Yet, a recent decision not to nominate candidates for any elections—local or regional—has intensified doubts about the KSO, making it a target for one of the RuNet's more vicious attack memes.



A video blogger in Kuwait is walking away from his cyber-activism, writing that police have threatened and beaten him. Mona Kareem tells us why the Angry Bedoon will no longer be sharing videos of oppression against stateless people in Kuwait.




RuNet sceptical about Chelyabinsk meteor.


The tendency of the RuNet to amplify conspiracy theory explanations of any given event cannot be overestimated. And yet, the degree to which such explanations often become part of the mainstream discourse never fails to surprise.

Interactive maps of China's most and least polluted places.


The economic impact of a war between Japan and China.


One Minute MBA uploaded a video explaining the global economic impact of Sino-Japanese war over the Diaoyu Islands (or Senkaku Islands) if it really happened.


Canada: Abusive policing, neglect along 'Highway of tears'.


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in northern British Columbia has failed to protect indigenous women and girls from violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Women and girls Human Rights Watch interviewed also described abusive treatment by police officers, including excessive use of force, and physical and sexual assault.

Via https://twitter.com/hudsonlw via Facebook.
Sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


Tuesday 19 February 2013


“In order to be with my husband I need to move to Tunisia or elsewhere in Europe..I don’t understand why I can’t live in my home, with my husband..why must I be forced out just to live with the man I have married?!!”

British citizen Sandra and her husband, Ahmed, have been fighting to have the right to live together in the UK since December 2011. Ahmed lives in Tunisia and Sandra in England.

UKBA delays and decisions have been playing havoc with their lives. They initially waited three months for an answer on their visa application. Ahmed went to the embassy and they told him they didn’t know anything about his application following which they spent three hours looking for his paper work. This was followed by a refusal letter.

They have been to solicitors who said they cannot help Sandra unless she gets a disability or carer’s allowance. So she effectively being encouraged to go on benefits to live with her husband.

They don't know what to do and are badly in need of help. They have been married for two years and the only way they get to see each other is if Sandra travels to Tunisia, which is putting her under a lot of stress and as a result of all this heartache, she has now fallen ill.

The excuses that UKBA has given for the refusal are ridiculous. First they said Ahmed’s English wasn’t up to standard; however he has an English diploma and has passed all the required tests. Then they said that Sandra wasn’t earning enough.

Sandra and Ahmed are at their wits' end.

All they want is to live their lives together.
Today's links

Chris Mead: Beyond immigration.


In an email sent to me by the man who is a contributor to the Family Immigration Alliance (FIA), he has succinctly stated why he has given in. Embattling pre entry language requirements and the tough toll a long distance marriage was taking on his will power, all to achieve a private family life he is so severely disheartened by immigration proposals, that the years of compliance and quiet misery of rejections had finally reached a tipping point.

The government is so intent on reducing immigration, that they have overlooked the equal reduction in family life that follows. So severe have they been in their approach that it has already been enough to force British people to consider a family life elsewhere.


https://twitter.com/TomBVickers tweets :
Excellent post by https://twitter.com/ncadc scare-mongering & racist pandering from Theresa May on deportation http://ncadc.org.uk/blog/2013/02/the-judges-revolt-and-the-home-offices-assault-on-love/

https://twitter.com/emmabmoussa tweets :
Mother in law upset because she hasn't seen us in 9 months let alone meet her grandson! Thanks UKBA!

Emma and Driss : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/emma-and-driss-i-dont-know-how-anyone.html
“I don’t know how anyone could expect me to be separated from my baby’s daddy ... until I get a job the UKBA agrees with, we miss out on special family moments and our baby misses out on his daddy.”
“My son deserves the best in life I can give him ... I hope I can give him his daddy as his first ever Christmas present.”


Beware the Bulgarian invasion. Excellent blog from young Bulgarian British Roma man.


As a dual national Gypsy, I am often at the receiving end of these people’s ignorance and while I should perhaps pity them, I instead quite despise them. Indeed, it is not their fault that they are the product of the Great British education system which functions only to keep the plebs in their place, but it is their fault that their political standpoints are informed only by the Daily Mail and Facebook memes. Unwilling to exercise their ability to question everything, the gullible instead have become Nigel Farage’s wet dream, with their spongy little brains soaking up every last word he spits from his mouth. 

Via https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK

In Canada too. Failed refugee with terminal cancer faces deportation.


Shawn Pompey receives free care and medications from his oncologist and drug companies, not taxpayers. He has months to live, but CBSA wants to deport him now.

Related : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-trials-of-roseline-akhalu-httpwww.html - http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/luqman%20onikosi

DC's Indian dating disaster.


The Indian prime minister chose to raise a couple of thorny topics in the no-questions-allowed press conference with David Cameron this afternoon: the Westland bribery case (running very hot on India’s highly competitive news channels) and India’s complaints about UK visas.

UK sources dismissed that as Premier Singh playing to his domestic audience but it wasn’t exactly red carpet stuff.


https://twitter.com/britcits tweets :
https://twitter.com/timesofindia Dont be fooled.Indian cits being used for money,with govt keeping ageing Indian parents from Brit kids


England's 'first refugees'.


Robin Gwynn examines the arrival of Huguenot French to England in the 17th century.

Remembering Jean Rondeau the Huguenot.


This weekend the Huguenots returned to Spitalfields – three hundred years after they originally came from France and Belgium fleeing religious persecution and bringing flair and sophistication to the textile industry that was to occupy this corner of London for subsequent centuries. The occasion of this recent gathering was the dedication of a plaque to Jean Rondeau, Master Silk Weaver and Sexton of Christ Church from 1761-1790, honouring all those Huguenot families who passed through Spitalfields so long ago.


https://twitter.com/si_mcmahon tweets :
Daily Mail(!): family being divided by UK immigration rules, comments section shows readers willing to allow stay

https://twitter.com/jcwinews tweets :
When immigration controls impinge UK citizens' rights, even the Daily Mail gets shirty!

https://twitter.com/freemvntblog tweets :
Anyone know what the current position is with the challenges to the appendix FM rules in the High Court?
Another critique of the new Rules' codification of Article 8.


Izuazu (Article 8 – new rules) Nigeria [2013] UKUT 00045 (IAC)

The Upper Tribunal has concluded that new Immigration Rules do not adequately reflect the Secretary of State's obligations under Article 8 of the ECHR.

This is the second determination of the "fit" between the immigration rules, introduced last year, and the UK's obligations under Article 8 of the Convention. I covered the Upper Tribunal's assessment of the rules in MF (Article 8–new rules) Nigeria [2012] UKUT 00393 (IAC) in a previous post and it will be remembered that the Tribunal held there that the new rules fall short of all Article 8 requirements.


If America is a nation of immigrants, it’s also a nation of immigrants’ husbands, wives, parents and children — and their brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews too.

That could begin to change under legislation being written in the Senate, where the nation’s longstanding emphasis on family-based immigration is coming under scrutiny.



A repeating history of indefinite detention.


What has the United States learned from Japanese internment? Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, approximately 120,000 people of Japanese descent were forced from their homes and incarcerated in military-guarded camps from 1942-1946. Although the majority of those interned were US citizens, they were not notified of their charges, nor were they guaranteed the right to a trial.


https://twitter.com/liamdutton tweets :
Another amazing image taken from the Int. Space Stn by @Cmdr_Hadfield as the moon rises above earth -

Dhaka sit-in evokes Tahrir Square spirit.


Shahbag protesters bid farewell to murdered blogger.


Caroline Crutchley : A migrant in Malta.


Carolyn Fish on being a migrant in Japan.


'We are a smiling, hopeless country.'


As Italy prepares for one of its most important elections in decades, Lizzy Davies searches for ordinary people's stories.


Citizens document extreme water pollution in China.



https://twitter.com/Paul_Dillane tweets :
CPJ identifies Eritrea, North Korea, Syria and Iran as worst in 'Most Censored Countries' Index


https://twitter.com/Refugees tweets :
What a story. #Uganda gives the Eritrean football team refugee status. This is why: http://rfg.ee/hQ4p9